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Re: [ontolog-forum] intangibles (was RE: Why most classifications are fu

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 06:57:16 -0400
Message-id: <4E1C288C.9000002@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Chris and Doug,    (01)

The word 'intangible' is the source of the confusion.  I suggest
that you stop using that word.  It has been infected with a
philosophical virus.    (02)

>> The intangibles that we are discussing are mental artifacts which
>> are shared by multiple people.    (03)

The term "mental artifact" is another philosophical virus.
Don't use it.  And most definitely avoid saying that two or more
people could ever "share" anything mental.    (04)

> So, if I understand correctly, when one person makes a promise to another,
> you believe that this creates a (single) mental artefact - the promise -
> that has temporal but not spatial extent and is shared by both people.    (05)

In Peirce's terminology, you would say that a written contract is
a token of a sign type.  Whatever occurs in the brain when somebody
thinks about the contract is another token of the same type -- but
it might not be an exact replica of the written token.    (06)

When two people talk about the contract, each of them has a neural token
in the brain.  Those tokens are physical, and there is no sharing of
those tokens.  But each token can be a fairly accurate instance of the
same type as the written token.    (07)

> When deciding on the architecture for one's ontology one can choose whether
> to include intangibles or not.
> Then one needs to motivate this choice.
> In the case of intangibles/abstract object, the classical hurdle is
> explaining*in principle*  how one can know something one cannot perceive in
> any way at all.    (08)

Any adequate ontology will need to represent mathematics.    (09)

When mathematicians use logic, they use existential quantifiers
for those things.  They can define a predicate cube(x) that is
true iff x happens to be a cube.    (010)

When you have a sign with mark/token/type, the type is of the same
nature as a mathematical structure.  The token is a mark that has
been classified according to a type.    (011)

> Let's agree to disagree.    (012)

No.  You have caught a philosophical virus, and I'm trying to help
you get rid of it.    (013)

> "Most philosophers nowadays repudiate immaterial minds". So your
> claim "they cannot deal with anything that involves intentionality"
> probably needs a little more justification.    (014)

I did not say anything of the sort.  I said very explicitly that
what goes on in the brain is physical and localized in space & time.
You can process mathematical notations in the brain just as well
as you can on paper.  Both are physical.    (015)

But the structures that the mathematical notation refers to
are *not* physical.  Mathematics defines cubes, but there is
no perfect cube in the universe.  Mathematics can define
infinite dimensional Hilbert spaces, or Cantor's hierarchies
of infinity.  None of those things can be localized.    (016)

When I talk about sign types as abstract, I use them in exactly
the same way as any mathematical structure.  I can describe
them in physical marks.  Like any mathematician, I am happy
to put an existential quantifier in front of the variables
that refer to them.  They can exist in a Tarski-style model,
but that model does not exist in space and time.    (017)

> If someone wants to adopt an "only tool" syndrome approach (e.g. adopt
> Peirce :-) )...    (018)

You can't make that charge against me.  Peirce never limited himself
to any finite set of tools.  He would be happy to use any or all tools
that anybody might invent.  He (and I) very happily used extensional
methods when they were appropriate.  But he also showed where they fail.    (019)

John    (020)

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